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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Jesus Christ Superstar (The Original Motion Picture Sound Track Album) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

4.05 | 83 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm not going to lie, the fact that this is here blows my mind, although truthfully it makes sense.

I've been a fan of this musical/rock opera for a long time. After Les Miserables, this one is my favorite thus far. Obviously the two are very different in style and subject matter, with Jesus Christ Superstar of course featuring a rock ensemble as well as all the rest.

I actually have two recordings of Jesus Christ Superstar but this is the one I enjoy more. Truthfully the musical has always had its cheesy moments - for example, the excited "What's the buzz, tell me what's a-happ-en-in!" in What's the Buzz, or in the last supper when the Apostles sing "Always hoped that I'd be an apostle, knew that I would make it if I tried, then we we retire we can write the gospel so they'll still talk about us when we die." They're not exactly terrible but they always seemed a bit awkward to me. However, the vocals in this one are great, just enough conviction but not so much as to make the entire thing seem cheesy, but unfortunately I am not such a fan of the vocalists on the "New Stage Production Soundtrack" recording. They tend to go over the top and bring the album to a much more cheesy level.

This album contains some really great dark or morose moments. Whether you are Christian or not, you have to admit that the story of Jesus' last days really does lend itself well to a lot of great, emotional music. For example, in The Temple, after Jesus has cleared it out of the peddlers, he is approached by many poor and wounded, demanding of him, "See my eyes I can hardly see, see my legs I can hardly stand, I believe you can make me well, see my purse I'm a poor poor man" etc.. It starts off quiet, but slowly more and more voices are added to these lines as they repeat, slowly building up a crescendo of those demanding that Jesus take the woes out of their life. Another tense moment is the confrontation between Jesus and Pilate, the climax of the musical in my mind, where Pilate demands from Jesus to give him a reason not to hurt him. Jesus, having accepted his fate, give Pilate no reason not to do what the masses demand, and so against his desires Pilate flogs Jesus 39 times, counting out each flog with increasing intensity. This is a truly moving piece.

The portrayal of Judas in this musical is interesting. He is of course well known for being the man who betrayed his leader, Jesus Christ, and it would have been all too easy to make him a slimy, simpering fool who cared of naught but money. Instead, he is presented as all too human, feeling disappointed that Jesus is not doing what he expected him to do when he started following Jesus. He feels that he and Jesus have the same desires but that Jesus is botching it up. After Jesus is captured Judas is filled with such guilt that he kills himself. Even though he did wrong, you can't help but sympathise with him (to some extent of course). He is almost a tragic villain.

Of course the real villain are the priests who turned against Jesus, especially Caiaphas (who has a great, deep voice perfect for his character), and their characters are actually represented with enough sleaze that you truly dislike them. King Herod also makes an appearance, in one of the most lighthearted tracks on the album (called of course Herod's Song), which has a bit of a rag-time feel to it. "Oh, you are the Christ, you're the great Jesus Christ? Prove to me that your divine- change my water into wine!"

Of course, you guys aren't just interested in the plot and characters, although it must be noted that of course with this type of music those are the leading factor and as important as anything else. But how is the music? Well, actually, really good! The rock instruments are used to great effect, and some of the guitar lines are really great - maybe a bit of David Gilmour to them, in the sense that there are a lot of long notes that hold a lot of meaning. The riffs are amazing and the whole band/orchestra does a great job of building up tension, creating contrast and drama, and accompanying the singers. There are also some great instrumental moments, such as "Overture", which of course hints at a lot of the themes that are present on the album (as an overture is supposed to) in a really great way.

Overall this is an excellent musical and rock opera, and for the more dramatically inclined prog listeners it really shouldn't be missed. It is imperfect but there are a lot of moments on it that are likely to send shivers down your spine. A good thing, if you ask me.

TheGazzardian | 4/5 |


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